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Stunning revelations about Husain Haqqani’s secret moves to scuttle Dr. Aafia’s case.
Friday, 24 September 2010.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—British investigative journalist Yvonne Ridley, who first broke the story on Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s detention by US military in Afghanistan, has uncovered another scandal in her case. This time it’s the role of Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington Mr. Husain Haqqani in obstructing the efforts of the Pakistani government to secure her release from US custody.
It appears that Mr. Haqqani has been active behind the scenes in complicating Dr. Siddiqui’s case. Several American and British journalists say Ambassador Haqqani has been briefing them off-the-record about Dr. Siddiqui’s guilt.
It is not clear if such briefings were part of instructions received by Mr. Haqqani from Pakistan Foreign Office, or if those briefings represented Ambassador Haqqani’s personal views.
More stunningly, Mr. Haqqani has refused to grant an entry visa to US politician and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Ms. McKinney planned to visit Pakistan earlier this month to lobby Mr. Haqqani’s government in Islamabad on Dr. Aafia’s case. She also planned to visit flood victims and draw the attention of the US public to relief work.
Moreover, Mr. Haqqani stands accused of influencing Judge Richard Berman negatively on Dr. Aafia’s innocence.
Ms. Ridley’s revelations are supported by circumstantial evidence. On January 26, 2010, frustrated by reports that Ambassador Haqqani appeared not interested in lobbying the US government for Dr. Aafia’s release, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani decided to make an unusual gesture. He bypassed Mr. Haqqani’s direct bosses at the Pakistan Foreign Office and directly telephoned him at his residence in Washington DC. According to an official press release, Prime Minister Gilani “advised him to keep strict eye on the progress of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui case and also directing him to update the Prime Minister on daily basis” on Dr. Aafia’s condition in jail.
As a further evidence of the sloppy work done by Ambassador Haqqani, Interior Minister Rehman Malik had to write to US Attorney General this week urging the release of Dr. Aafia.
Unlike Ms. McKinney, who has been speaking in Dr. Aafia’s favor at public events in the US, Mr. Haqqani has been avoiding such gatherings like the plague. [The reason for this is that Mr. Haqqani doesn’t want to irk the FBI and rock his chances of getting permanent US residence once his chance ambassadorship expires, his critics quip].
But the most serious allegations on his role in damaging Dr. Aafia’s case come in Yvonne Ridley’s column that she released this week.
Ms. Ridley writes:
And what of the ubiquitous Mr Haqqani? He’s not a career diplomat. In fact he holds US citizenship or has aspirations to making him a very peculiar choice as Pakistan’s man in Washington. Once his foray into the world of diplomacy comes to an end he’ll resume his career as a lecturer in America, something his US controllers remind him on a regular basis.
His Excellency has certainly been a busy little bee with regards Dr Aafia’s case, briefing some of my colleagues in the western media telling them ‘off-the-record’ what a bad woman she is!
Just recently his cover was blown when he refused the very excellent female politician Cynthia McKinney a visa to Pakistan. Cynthia was part of an international delegation due to travel to Islamabad to raise concerns about the case with the government there.
Mr Haqqani, who thinks nothing of giving visas to Blackwater guns-for-hire and mercenaries heading to the fresh killing fields of Pakistan saw fit to stop the former US Congress woman from travelling there.
He squirmed and wriggled after being hoisted by his own petard, but like a worm impaled firmly on a fishhook of his own making, he could not escape the humiliating exposure of his duplicitous behaviour.
If he has been briefing against Dr Aafia Siddiqui all this time, one can only imagine what nonsense he filled in Judge Richard Berman’s head during their private meetings. In any other country this sort of revelation would be a career wrecker for both men, but justice is the US is a strange beast.
(Yes, this is a serious allegation to make and I would have asked the judge personally, but he has banned me from using his fax and phone! Hilarious really, when you consider he has no legal jurisdiction in London, where I live. Obviously he thinks if he can hold a trial on a crime allegedly committed in Afghanistan, he can have me ‘renditioned’ and charged with contempt of court.)”
Considering that these allegations are tantamount to dereliction of duty on the part of Mr. Ambassador, maybe it is time for Prime Minister Gilani to place another direct call to Mr. Haqqani and ask him a straight question: Whose interests does he really represent?
Most Pakistanis know the answer anyway.
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